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S. Shakthidharan

Artist, Writer

Shakthi is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Kurinji

He’s a western Sydney storyteller with Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. He’s a writer, director and producer of film and theatre, as well as a composer and performer of original music.

As a writer, Shakthi’s debut play is Counting and Cracking. Co-produced by Belvoir and Co-Curious, Counting and Cracking is a 3 hour epic with 16 actors and 3 musicians hailing from 6 different countries. It had a sell out season at Sydney Festival 2019, followed by the Adelaide Festival, with rave reviews and a profound impact on the Sri Lankan community.

Shakthi was also a Producer and Associate Director on the production. The script won the Victorian Premier’s overall Literature Prize and the NSW Premier’s Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting. The production has gone on to win 7 Helpmann Awards including 2 for Shakthi – Best New Australian Work and Best Direction of a Play.

It also won the Sydney Theatre Award for Best New Australian Work and was nominated for Best Direction of the Mainstage ProductionShakthi is in active development adapting ‘Counting and Cracking’ as a television series with a major Australian production company.

Shakthi’s play adaptation of The Bone Sparrow by Zana Frallon has been programmed for early 2022 and will tour around the UK in a co-production with Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and Mercury Theatre Colchester. He has a number of new plays in development with Belvoir St Theatre and is developing a feature film for him to direct with feature producer John Maynard.

As a co-writer, director and producer, Shakthi’s most recent screen project, Laka, is a multi-platform feature film, audiovisual installation and VR project travelling to contemporary arts centres and festivals around the world.

Other works include feature film Riz (Sydney Film Festival 2015, Carriageworks 2013), site-specific audiovisual experience The Other Journey (Parramasala 2011, Ten Days on the Island 2013), dance/documentary work Zameen (Floating Land Festival, Parramasala and Attakalari Bienniale, 2013) and hybrid theatre/dance work The Migrant Project (Performance Space 2005, Street Theatre and Seymour Centre 2006, Hyde Park Barracks Museum 2007).

Shakthi is the Artistic Lead at Co-Curious. The unique position of Co-Curious is that it supports writers to bring their stories to life with fidelity to their communities and at the same time attract mainstream theatre and film industry partners. Co-Curious is the sister company to CuriousWorks, where Shakthi was the Founder and Artistic Director from 2003-2018. During this time he led the CuriousWorks team to develop an award-winning model for the innovative use of creative digital media in underprivileged communities. This work has led to several long-term, multi-platform arts initiatives as well as significant grassroots social change in communities in Western Sydney, remote Western Australia and Northern Melbourne. Shakthi grew CuriousWorks from a start up in his bedroom to one of the leading community arts companies in the country.

Shakthi is currently an Associate Artist at Belvoir. He was Associate Artist at Carriageworks from 2013-2015 and a founding directorate member of National Theatre of Parramatta in 2017. In 2015, he was awarded the Phillip Parson’s Playwright Award from Belvoir Theatre and in 2011 the Kirk Robson Award by Australia Council for the Arts, given to an artist for their work in relation to social justice and community cultural leadership.

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Nurture the Community, Nurture the Country
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Conversation 10 - 10 Nov 2021

Nurture the Community, Nurture the Country

Writer and director S. Shakthidharan in conversation with his mother, the revered classical Indian dancer Anandavalli.

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